CYIL vol. 11 (2020)

BIRUTĖ PRANEVIČIENĖ – VIOLETA VASILIAUSKIENĖ CYIL 11 (2020) their children simultaneously. The schools and kindergartens were closed or accepted very few children. The education was carried out by remote means. If we refer to the European Convention on Human Rights, the articles indicating the rights restricted were Articles 8 and 11 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 2 of Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The level of restrictions varied slightly among the states, but in essence all the states took similar measures, limiting the right to private life, right to assembly and association, right to education and the freedom of movement. Within theEuropean Union and also with other countries, the right of movement has been restricted. 18 Schengen agreement states have announced the closing of their borders due to COVID-19 disease on different grounds foreseen in Schengen code. 9 There is another right that is discussed in the case of some countries, is the right to information, protected under Article 10 of ECHR. Human Rights Watch has noted that “Government officials in Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, China, Mexico, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, the United States, and Zimbabwe have exhibited disturbing denialism about COVID-19, depriving their publics of accurate information on the pandemic. 10 Different misinformation is being spread regarding the minority groups’ involvement in the spread of the virus. We can see that “[i]n Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Venezuela, journalists and others have been arrested and detained for reporting on or expressing opinions about COVID-19 on social media. Egypt and China have expelled journalists. In Bolivia, authorities have used COVID-19 as a justification to threaten political opponents with up to 10 years in prison for spreading “misinformation.” In China, outrage over the reprimand of a whistle-blower led to a rare apology from the local police.” 11 On the other hand, what is behind the lines of discussion of the limitations of human rights, are the rights and values protected by those measures. Of course, the pandemic hit the countries unexpectedly and most countries were not ready or did not exactly know the most effective measures to counter the threat, there were many different opinions on whether the states’ actions were proportionate to the aims sought, whether they were the most effective. Therefore, the states were in a way going “in the fog”, but the situation required quick action and lengthy consultations were not a feasible option. But we have to note that the states’ actions and restrictions were not self-directed, they were aimed at protecting the lives and health of people and the wellbeing of the medical personnel. Furthermore, the social rights are called into question and tested during the situation of pandemic. Giuseppe Palmisano, President of the European Committee of Social Rights, has stated that “[t]he COVID-19 crisis is a brutal reminder of the importance of ensuring lasting progress with respect to social rights enjoyment, particularly through the development of universal public health services.” 12 9 European Commission, ‘Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control’ (2020) accessed 31 May 2020. 10 Human Rights Watch ‘COVID-19: A Human Rights Checklist’ (April 14, 2020) accessed 31 May 2020. 11 Ibid. 12 PALMISANO, Giuseppe, ‘Social Rights in times of pandemic’ (2020) accessed 31 May 2020.


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